Few artists would consider cleaning the city streets, designing custom-built nuclear shelters or fighting charges of counterfeiting money as part of their activities. But then most artists don't share the concerns that the members of Hi-Red Center (HRC) had as one of the most radical art groups to have emerged from postwar Japan.
Aspects of the short-lived group's work have featured in exhibitions on Japanese postwar or avant-garde art; but until now there has been no in-depth exhibition dedicated to the group — a serious oversight considering their status in avant-garde art circles and their continuing influence, half a century later.
But now comes "Hi-Red Center: the Documents of 'Direct Action' " at the Shoto Museum of Art in Tokyo's Shibuya district. It's the first exhibition devoted to cataloging and presenting as much of the group's activities as possible — no easy task as the group issued no manifesto and largely eschewed leaving behind material artworks for posterity, in favor of articulating actions, gestures and events.